Since Dr. Thygerson’s first trip research trip to Nepal in 2014, he dreamed of bringing BYU students to Nepal. This year that dream became a reality as Dr. Thygerson, Dr. Johnston, their family members and a group of BYU students flew to Kathmandu for three weeks of intense field school on the local brick kilns.
Nepal has approximately 500 brick kilns that operate from December to May. While the brick industry means jobs for locals, the brick production saturates Nepal in the air pollution causing health problems among workers and the community. Field school integrated BYU students with local students from Kathmandu University. Together they collected air quality samples from huts on the brick kiln sites. The data will be used to improve air quality conditions and reduce health risks at the kilns and surrounding areas.
When they weren’t collecting samples, BYU students visited temples, local historical sites and hiked through nature (while trying to avoid leeches). They also attended a wedding (while wearing traditional dress), and other religious ceremonies. The culminating experiential learning experience was the week-long trek to the Annapurna Base Camp.
Ashley Raynor said, “Our first day at the brick kiln everything became real. I knew that our work would help people, but it was just a nice thought then. After our first day in the kilns, those anonymous people suddenly had names, faces and futures.”
 Thygerson, S. M., Sanjel, S., & Johnson, S. (2016). Occupational and Environmental Health Hazards in the Brick Manufacturing Industry in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs, 04(05).
Photos: Laney Whitney